Monday, August 26

‘Acrobatic’ yoga scaring off newcomers

The king dancer’s pose.

The king dancer’s pose.

Kong corrects a student’s posture during a yoga session.

Kong corrects a student’s posture during a yoga session.

MIRI: ‘Acrobatic’ yoga poses that are often shown on social media and photo sharing sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are actually scaring off newcomers from trying the ancient Indian physical and mental exercises.

Certified yoga instructor Roselind Kong said photos of complicated poses, often posted by celebrities, may not help to introduce the benefits of yoga to non-practitioners.

“Unless you are a committed yogi who spends hours just to train and perfect your exercise, the photos we often see on social media are giving the wrong impression to beginners,” she told thesundaypost.

“They would think that learning yoga would involve ‘acrobatic’ poses and many would quickly give up thinking they might not be up to the challenge.”

With today (June 21) being the first ever International Yoga Day, Kong said this is the best time to truly understand yoga.

“Yoga comprises fixed poses. For the beginner, it is important for them to learn the foundation before moving to the next level.”

She explained that the basic steps are warming up, sun salutation, balancing poses, warrior pose, camel pose and rest pose.

“Those who practise yoga would really feel what it does to their bodies. Every movement, from the warming-up to sun salutation, balancing pose, and warrior pose; they all correlate with each other.

“While yoga has been proven to be a great way to stretch and tone your muscles, poses like the tree pose and king dancer’s pose, if practised regularly, could increase proprioception (the ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion and equilibrium). It also indirectly improves your body posture, which would also protect the joints and knee from injury,” she said.

Kong pointed out that improved breathing techniques and blood circulation could also be achieved through relaxation exercises, which help drain lymph nodes and boost immunity.

Kong leads students with the bow pose, which is said to relieve back pain.

Kong leads students with the bow pose, which is said to relieve back pain.

“Better health makes you a happier person, helps you focus on your daily routine and relaxes your system which could lead to better sleep. The whole circle relates to each other, hence it is important to ensure that you learn the ‘complete’ yoga,” she said.

Kong highlighted that medical professionals also recommend yoga for its health benefits.

“There are still men who attend my yoga class under their doctor’s advice, to improve their health. For those who are overweight or have high blood pressure, they are less suited to running or other aggressive workouts. Passive exercises like yoga could improve their health from the inside and out,” she said. According to Kong, taking up yoga was a trend in Miri some 10 years ago.

“Back then, many were inspired and enrolled in yoga classes conducted by only a handful of yoga instructors available here. However, a trend is merely a trend and it quickly passed after the ‘fever’ cooled down.It could be due to the aching effect after the stretching or perhaps many realised that they weren’t patient enough to continue to practise. Eventually they left in exchange for other forms of exercise,” she said.

When Kong started her yoga classes following her certification in 2006, she also had students who lacked commitment.

“After a class or two, some decided to skip with the reason they could not make time. Others wished to try something else. However, there were also some who came back after a long time, until they decided to leave yoga for good.

“I would still advise my students to train persistently at home, at least twice a week, as it is important to maintain the muscles and strength,” she said.

The 39-year-old, who also teaches modern pop dance, now designs several different sets to spice up her yoga sessions.

“Beside all of the above benefits that I have mentioned, one of the best perks of yoga is that regular training can keep the body young and energetic,” she added.

Kong assists a student with the triangle pose.

Kong assists a student with the triangle pose.